Substance abusers who can’t get their hands on opioids are reaching for a drug many people would not expect – diarrhea medicines. Imodium and other anti-diarrhea drugs, which they call the poor man’s methadone, are being abused by those looking for their next high, as well as those in recovery who are looking to soften the withdrawal systems. The active ingredient, loperamide, can be toxic and even deadly when consumed in excess amounts, and especially dangerous if mixed with other drugs.
According to a recent article in The Atlantic, “the number of calls to poison centers for intentional loperamide exposure more than doubled between 2010 and 2015,” and with a national opioid epidemic now on our hands, this is just another thing to look out for. So much so that the FDA has alerted doctors to look out for loperamide abuse following a study published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine. The study found that recent oral loperamide abuse as a substitute to opioids has been on the rise, with patients attempting to self-treat their opioid addiction.
Although the drug is legal and easily accessible, its abuse can lead to major health complications, such as irregular cardiac rhythm and even death, and should be kept away from those on the journey to recovery, as with other over-the-counter medications that may impair judgment or have sedative effects.
If you or someone you love needs help and support for an addiction, Spectrum Health Systems and the New England Recovery Center are here 24/7. Our individualized services provide the support you need, when you need it. Learn more on our website or call us at (800) 366-7732 for inpatient services and (800) 464-9555 extension 1161 for outpatient treatment.